Edmonton’s neighbourhood of Norwood now has a restaurant to call their own: OTTO Food and Drink. The family-friendly eatery offers its casual space to diners, a place where you can share a platter of sausages and perhaps a drink or two.
Just north of Little Italy and a hop away from downtown’s core, OTTO Food and Drink didn’t start off as that. Owner and former Culina partner Ed Donszelmann’s first take of the logo actually had “Sausages and Beer” on it. He didn’t want to be limited to just that though, so “Food and Drink” it became. The bicycle stuck though, an homage to his Dutch heritage perhaps or his hopes that Edmontonians will bike their way down to the restaurant. Whatever you think makes a good story, Ed would love to hear it. He’s looking for a good anecdote to snatch up.
Despite not having a solidified story as to the name OTTO or the bicycle, you can’t help but feel at home in the space. Painted concrete block walls, wood panelling, old school chairs at a mix of communal and individual tables, and a touch of Dutch pride with orange pendant lamps make the restaurant really feel like a spot along the way home from work. Garage doors will open up in the summer, expanding to patio seating and by then, Ed and head chef Thomas Spacinsky hope to expand the dinner menu and tack on lunch and double as a cafe space. For now, the dinner menu is simple: sausages and beer.
Let’s start with the sausages. Made by Steve Furgiuele of FUGE Fine Meat, OTTO’s sausages steal the show. (You can help support FUGE Fine Meat in opening up their own space via their Alberta Boostr!) A selection of six meat-filled links are available ($7) and served with a small side of sauerkraut and mustard (yellow, dijon or hopped). Ordering multiple sausages to share on a board is a fantastic way to sample the menu.
- American Andouille. Medium spiced, seasoned in a southern American style. Contains braised pork and red wine.
- Beef Bratwurst. Pure beef sausage with hints of allspice, caraway, and mustard. Contains no pork products.
- Chorizo Verde. An interpretation of the regional Mexican specialty. Tomatillos, smoked peppers and fresh cilantro help create this aromatic sausage.
- Italian Fennel. Medium spiced with toasted fennel seeds, Cabernet Sauvignon and imported Calabrese chill flakes.
- Merguez – Lamb or Beef. North African inspired sausage made with FUGE’s Harissa paste. Contains no pork products. Uses Tangle Ridge Ranch lamb exclusively.
- OTTO Dog. Exclusive to OTTO. Inspired by the Dutch influence of the space. A smoked gouda bratwurst with caraway and fresh garlic. Utilizing Sylvan Star mild smoke gouda.
To make it into a handheld affair, you can also order your sausage on a bun (comes with a pickle!) for an extra $2. If you’re in the mood for German-style sausages, make your order into a sweet or hot currywurst with fries for $12.
I was able to try it all a couple of weeks ago on an outing with friends. My favourite was the Italian Fennel, but I’m an absolute sucker for herb. The OTTO Dog was by far the favourite of the table, oozy smoked gouda always a win. We made our Beef Bratwurst into a Hot Currywurst, the spiced tomato relish fairly mild. The fries were perfect, albeit not hand cut but tossed in a fantastic herbed butter.
Sides include the Mac & Cheese, slightly smoky and deliciously cheesy, a true side to any of the sausages; Coleslaw, Potato Salad, both of which were standard and not as noteworthy; Sunchokes, an interesting addition to the menu, the pricey root vegetable roasted and served with a fermented tomato relish; and House Salad (not photographed).
Not only is the food at OTTO well done, the beer list is well crafted. Featuring small breweries from across Canada, OTTO divides their cold ones into Lagers/Pilsners, Wheat, Ale, IPA, Porters/Stouts, Sours, Saison, and Fruit. Breweries hail from small towns like Edgerton and Edson, to Lethbridge and Red Deer, Edmonton and Calgary, and heads east towards Hamilton, Ontario. I tried Village Brew’s Squeeze, a lemon and raspberry refresher from Calgary.
I’m glad OTTO is only a few minutes drive from my home in the downtown core and can appreciate the efforts that restaurants make to bring together a community. Support from the neighbourhood has been outstanding and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Norwood.
OTTO Food and Drink
11405 – 95 St